Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Microsoft rejects call to fix SQL password-exposure risk

Microsoft rejects call to fix SQL password-exposure risk


Most serious Managed Services Element Management Platforms, which depend on external databases, traditionally do not depend on databases such as Microsoft SQL. This article illustrates one of the reasons: security.

The Problem
"Applications go to great lengths to obfuscate passwords when they are needed within the software, and should not store passwords as 'clear text,' either in memory (as is the case with this vulnerability) or on disk," Sentrigo's advisory stated.

Microsoft has rejected the company's calls to change the way the software handles passwords, saying people with administrative rights already have complete control of the system anyway.
The Response
"Microsoft has thoroughly investigated claims of vulnerabilities in SQL Server and found that these are not product vulnerabilities requiring Microsoft to issue a security update," a spokesman wrote in an email. "An attacker who has administrative rights already has complete control of the system and can install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights."
What this means to Network Management

The problem with passwords being stored in the clear is not that an infected system could have data destroyed on it, but rather other systems what work with that infected system could be infected!

Of course, behaviors like this are rampant with Day-0 Exploits, Microsoft SQL Worms, Microsoft Windows Viruses, etc. Another place to get passwords by malware is just another reason not to implement such a system in an area where customer managed devices are routable.

If a system is storing passwords for thousands of managed systems in the clear, an infection of a central system could be disastrous for the managed customer edge devices.

A developer in a company may have the option to secure passwords or not - but if the developer in a company ever has to meet a PCI audit and the vendor does not offer that option, then the company providing the managed services is placed in tremendous risk.

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